One of the best things about making my journey with depression and anxiety public and starting Your Mind Tells Lies has been people telling me how much they relate and how they had felt alone until reading my blog. Helping others relate was not a goal of mine when I started this, well not intentionally at least. I needed away to process things, writing was and is my way; it is easier for me to put all the thoughts, feelings and emotions on paper, than it is to speak them out loud. When I try to open my mouth, all the things rolling around in my head fail to come out. I get frustrated that there are words rolling around in my head, that would make a decent starting place, but my mouth wont spit them out. Knowing that my writing is helping others has helped to encourage me to continue my public journey.
So, here are a few of the Apps for my phone that have helped along the way…
During one of my support group sessions I talked about how I just didn’t feel like I was worth it.
I was having a hard time looking myself in the mirror and even more so feeling like anyone should be excited to spend time with me or happy to be with me. I knew Kevin loved me, but I couldn’t understand why. I knew my friends valued me, but felt like I had been a terrible friend and that they should all be mad at me. I knew my family loved me, but felt like they should be upset with me for spending the last nine years wrapped up in something else.
It was suggested that I write down the accomplishments I had, regardless of how small they were, on post-it notes and leave them throughout my house in places I would see them everyday throughout the day. Friendly reminders of all the great things I have done, even if it was something as simple as, “You can tie your shoes!”
Throughout IOP they also stressed finding your own positive affirmations and repeating them when you started to fall down the dark rabbit hole.
I couldn’t think of things to write on post-it notes, I felt ridiculous posting them all over my house; so I never gave it a try. I would look up positive affirmations on Pinterest, hoping I would find something that hit home, something that could become my mantra, but all of the options became too overwhelming and I found myself aimlessly pining things to never come back to.
The My Affirmations app has been the perfect mixture of post-it notes throughout the day and positive affirmations. The app can be configured how you want it, there are a wide variety of categories to pick from and the option to add your own. Each affirmation appears with a calming image behind it, AND you have the option of adding your own photos to the affirmations.
Mine is set to send me push notifications throughout my day, starting at about 7 am and ending around 10 pm each day. They do not always work, at times I look at the message and think, “yeah right” as I read this positive message about myself. But, more often then not, they bring a brief smile to my face as they remind me of how strong I am, how far I have come, or how much I am loved.
Side Note: Throughout IOP and reflections since, my mantra should probably be “I am loved.” Acknowledging this is one of the things I have the most difficult time doing. That being said, this affirmation that I added to the app has got to be one of the most impactful:
I cannot tell you the number of times people have told me to meditate. Sit still. Close your eyes. Breath deep. In and out, focus on your breathing. Go to your safe space.
For the life of me I cannot successfully do this. Deep breaths, eyes closed and my mind continues to race about anything else. Sitting in IOP doing group meditation I couldn’t help but wonder how stupid I looked at the moment, “What does my face look like? How silly do we all look sitting here in a circle taking deep breaths…. oh yeah take a deep breath.” If I am already in a bad space, meditation ends up being hyper focused on that, rather then relaxing it becomes a form of self punishment. It is my way of taking myself away from the things I feel I don’t deserve, love and attention, and putting myself in a corner where I replay my mistakes over and over again, a corner where I beat myself down and am reminded of how horrible I am.
I do recognize that at times I could really use something to bring me back down, specifically at the end of a long day when I am exhausted and my emotions are starting to get the best of me. The Meditation Game has come in really handy in those times. It is calming, there are no high scores, nothing to beat, but it is interactive and does pop up positive messages from time to time. I can play for a few minutes or twenty if I really want. I can changes the messaging from the current positive self-esteem (because, well I think we have established this is something I have an issue with) to one about love (which I honestly should also give a try) or various others. The natural background, simple interactions and quite sounds are calming and work better for me then sitting eyes closed trying to figure out where my safe space* is.
The goal of the “game” is to continue adding to your orb by collecting all of the energy.
Each time I got to see my therapist or psychiatrist they have me take a survey to evaluate my levels of depression and anxiety, and every question starts with “In the last two weeks…” I try my absolute best to remember how I felt over the last two weeks, but know that the last few days and moments are always being represented in my answers more than anything else. I can hardly remember what I did a few hours ago, let alone remember how I have been feeling the last two weeks.
A similar thing happens in my support group; we do our weekly check-in, sharing how things have been over the last week, and every week I sit there rattling my brain trying to remember how the week was and what the hell I did.
So clearly, we have established that my memory of emotions and feelings, or even daily events is off.
Mid-August I stumbled upon Dalyio, an app that allows you to check-in with your mood and activities throughout the day. I decided to give it a try, I mean what is the worst that could happen by trying this free app?
After a few days I had regular reminders set on my phone to check-in with my mood ranging from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, at on the hour intervals.
The app was doing what it was designed to, help me keep track of my mood.
It took me a bit to discover that I could add in and remove the day-to-day actives they had in there Remove the on for parties, because when was the last time I went to one of those? And replace it with a business meeting activity, cause that is my life now.
I could add notes and comments about my activities, which seemed brilliant initially. “I’ll record what activity I have been doing at work each time I check-in,” I thought. I figured this would help me narrow the things that I like about Human Resources even more, or at least be an indicator as to which ones I seem the find more stressful.
Eventually I realized I could select more that one activity at a time and began working to tailor them to my day and my activities.
Each day I check-in it takes the average of the moods I have checked in with to rate the day’s average. It displays that on a calendar so I can see when I have had a string of bad and good days. It shows activity counts for each mood and probably has more stats that I can imagine.
After about a week on the free version, I spent the $3 for the paid version to remove the ads and give me more in app check-in reminders (the free version starts you with two). The in app check-in reminders are simple pop-ups asking how your day was. The app gives you five options Rad, Good, Meh, Bad and Awful, each with its respective reaction face icon. In the paid version (and possibly the free, I never thought to try it) you can go in and adjust those moods. I am not sure I would ever say I am feeling “good,” but some times I feel a bit more than meh, so I updated mine to Good/Rad, Okay/Pretty Good, Meh, Bad and Awful. Maybe one day things will be going really well and I will change things back.
I go to see both my therapist and my psychiatrist at the end of the month and I am excited to have a more realistic representation of how the last two weeks have been.